Registrar, Ackland Art Museum
15 years at Carolina
Describe a typical day in your job.
It depends on the current project I’m working on and changes from time to time. For example, in December we photographed over 200 objects over a three-week period. For those three weeks my days consisted of handling and moving art and working with a photographer. Now, my day is mostly working at my desk processing the images in Photoshop and linking them into our collection management database and making them available to the public through our online collection search.
The pandemic has influenced and made changes to many parts of my job. The biggest I would say is in exhibition work. What people don’t realize is that we plan and work on exhibitions years in advance. So, when the lockdown came, to just stop and completely change our exhibition program has had a big impact on my job.
How does your job support Carolina’s mission?
Supporting research and scholarship. One way was in 2010, when I began a four-year project to photograph the Ackland’s entire collection with the support of an IMLS [Institute of Museum and Library Service] grant. With the entire collection photographed, the campus community can visually engage with the collection in ways it couldn’t before.
Currently there are 19,397 objects in the Ackland’s collection. However, there are only 192 objects on display in our galleries. So, with a complete visual record of the collection, more of our collection can be seen through our online collection search giving students, faculty, scholars and researchers greater access to our collection and supporting their work.
What do you like most about your work?
Completing the installation of an exhibition. If you think about what an exhibition is, it’s a tangible and visual manifestation of an idea. For example, in 2008 we presented Circa 1958: Breaking Ground in American Art. This was a loan-based exhibition that consisted of 70 objects from 58 lenders across the country. I had to coordinate all 58 loans and oversee the unpacking and installation of all 70 works. Once all that work was done, the lighting was done and the labels were on the wall — it’s that moment. When an exhibition is no longer an idea, but a tangible thing you can experience — that’s what I like most about my job. Plus, I get to work with great art all day.
What’s the one thing about your job that others might not know?
What my job is and that my type of job even exists. I can’t tell you how many times, I say I’m a registrar, and the reply is “What’s that?”
The Ackland is open! Come see some great art!